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(With apologies to @oromendur)

 

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I'm Ann of Vries, aged 39; a diarist, a fiction writer, a fiber artist, a LARPer (also TTRPG, board games), a traveler, a hiker, and a first time mother. I’m madly in love with my partner, Mr of Vries and my son, Rowan of Vries.
 
I live in London, after having emigrated from Seattle three years ago. I love it here, although I’m still trying to find my tribe (outside of the House of Vries, of course). I've been spending a lot of time with the Rangers Guild of late, but as @Sciread77 says--once an Adventurer, always an Adventurer. Although in many ways my adventuring goal of late feels more like "coming home" (or maybe it's "finding home") that is still part of that pesky heroic journey. (Also, I love you Rangers, but I cannot keep up with your forum.)
 

I blinked, and suddenly I went from having a sleepy newborn baby to an energetic toddler! Being a curmudgeonly wizard who wants to sit cosy in my tower with a book and maybe I’ll go out tomorrow or next week or next year, I’m finding it a stretch to keep up with this little creature of chaos that wants to eat five times a day, frolic out of the house, get into mischief, and generally enjoy every moment of life… right now!

 

I feel like I’m living with Merry and Pippin rolled into one cute package. Or maybe, I should see it as the pair of us being Merry and Pippin. I could fight that, but it’s not a very fun way to live, so if you can’t beat them, join them. As such, I’m heading back into the Shire for this challenge, except....

 

This Challenge Starts with a Proper Adventure

 

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Part way into Zero Week into most of Week One, we’ll be taking Rowan on his first trip to America. And his first plane flight. 10 hours each way. Yikes! We’re on our way to Austin TX to spend a week with my paternal family. Talk about an adventure! I don't have specific goals for this trip except enjoy the time with my family. 

 

Once we’re back from that, the rest of the Challenge kicks into full swing.

 

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Frolic and get into Mischief Today

Summer is coming, the weather is great, so lets get out, get active, and have some fun!

  • Enjoy playing with my little hobbit. Get out at least once a day—to soft play, the story centre, park playgrounds, playgroup, etc. (Usual free pass for illness or particularly inclement weather.)
    • Play with him at home, too!
  • Clock in 10k+ steps a day.

 

Eat Well Today

Much like the hobbits, the House of Vries enjoys gathering around the table and eating good food.

  • Cook healthy, diverse meals for the family on the weekdays (Mr cooks on the weekends). There may be food writing.
  • I’ve been going through one of my “rely on sugary coffee drinks in the morning because I’m tired” phases. (This is the only way I like coffee.) I want to cut down to one sugary coffee drink in the morning, ideally eliminating it entirely, except on the worst of days.
    • I can drink all the tea (as I don’t add sugar or milk to my tea) and fizzy water I want. 

 

Live Well Today
Gratitude lists don’t really help me much, but I still  need to remind myself I’m living a charmed life. I haven’t always. There’s been some really difficult times in my life. But right now? This chapter?  A bit challenging, but absolutely charmed. So love it and live it to its utmost. 

  • At the minimum, mentally note things that are going well each day. Ideally, write them down.
  • Going out all the time for toddler activities cuts heavily into getting any housework done, though, and we like having a tidy space to live in. So I want to utilize 5 minute tidies to try to keep up so everyone can get to the fire exits in case of emergency!
    • 2-3 short tidies a day.

 

Love Well Today
The first year with a baby had our marriage functioning in basic survival mode most of the time. Now that Rowan is getting older, I want to spend more time with my husband and work on higher level aspects of our relationship. 

  • Make better use of the time after Rowan goes to sleep.
    • Play games together, at least once a week.
    • Make time to talk, at least once a week.
  • Try to get some walks in green places in, at least once this challenge. (Ideally, more.)

 

Be a Wizard, Sometimes
We’re currently negotiating with a childminder, which should start in early June and will afford a few hours of “me time” a week. (Final schedule TBD.) I want to make good use of that time—working on my writing, my knitting, other enriching activities, and also on some family projects that fall by the wayside chasing my little Merry!Pippin around.

  • At least 20 minutes of “Wizard” activities during a nap time during the week.
  • At least 1 hour on childminder days (once he’s in full attendance). 

 

Now, let's get on this adventure!

 

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I'm following you, Ann of Vries

and I LOVE pippin, even if as a "fool of a took" he does bring in more of his share of trouble!

 

Just keep in mind that if you get in any trouble sing the Bombadillo song and... if you've read the book, you can get some extraordinary help!

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on the other hand, DO try to not invoke his name while in the security "que" while in USA customs.  as those TSA guys have no sense of humor, at all.

 

anyways. I'm a Ranger, yes.  but I've decided not be so partisan.  there are many cool folks here in the Other guilds of the NF and Hiking is a HUGE passion of mine, too!

 

 

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I'm very glad to see you back in the Adventurer's! 

 

Love your challenge set up and where you put your focus - this is going to be such a fun challenge. 

 

And have a great trip!

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Welcome back!  I am also happy you’ve returned. Little hobbits are fun. And exhausting. I imagine they make wizarding difficult; they sure make building play sets with a bazillion pieces a lot harder

 

I keep meaning to do a challenge over with another guild, particularly with the Rangers or Warriors. 

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Update 0.1

 

The Ever Oozing Snot Monster has returned to the Shire. That is, Rowan has a cold ;_; Outside of an epically long nap this morning, he was pretty high demand all day (understandably) and was (weirdly) difficult to get down tonight. I'm hoping he'll recover quickly, since we leave on Thursday--and that I don't catch it from him. I've washed my hands a thousand times today. My little Hobbit has also figured out how to climb the stairs, which is great but also terrible because we don't have the stair gate set up in that area yet (as it wasn't needed until... today).  

 

Anyhow, I got a lot of chores done today while he was napping, and we had our playtime in the house. For dinner, I marinated two salmon fillets in a blend of honey, miso, and white wine, and also stir fried the vegetables and an exotic mushroom blend in the same. It turned out tasty. I also got clarification on a policy with the childminder I was concerned meant we would need to change our arrangement with her. 

 

It hasn't been an A+ day regarding my goals--I didn't get any creative writing done, and I got a bit cranky this evening, but hey, it's Zero Week and it wouldn't be challenge if I could rock it all today.

 

 

 

 

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Hard not to get cranky with the Snot Monster around. When our little ones were just starting to figure out stairs, my wife and I resorted to going down the stairs backwards on our hands and knees for a few weeks to show each child how it should be done. For our oldest, we taught him how to go down that way, but he always wanted to do it the way we were doing it, so we just started doing it the way we wanted him to do it. He caught on quickly. For our daughter, we just did it the way we wanted her to when she started to figure out stairs.

It is a pain in the butt to have to do stairs that way, but it is also kinda funny.

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11 hours ago, GoodDoug said:

When our little ones were just starting to figure out stairs

 

Teaching him to climb down safely is definitely an issue, but the more immediate one is that the upstairs is not baby safe in terms of small objects and things we'd just rather he not get into. I ordered a stair gate this morning, hopefully should arrive by tomorrow. (We may not have it set up before we leave on our trip, but it'll be here when we get back.) In the meantime I have chairs blocking the stairs because he's discovered a new party trick and wants to do it over and over and over... XD

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0.2 Update

 

The good news:

  • No sugary coffee drinks.
  • 40 minutes of creative writing.
  • 10k+ steps
  • Took a walk with Rowan and played with him at home.
  • Made a lovely Vries-friendly cauliflower cheese and pork loin joint for dinner. (Mr and I are lactose intolerant, hence issues with creamy dishes.)
  • Had some good talks with Mr..

 

The bad news: 

  • Rowan is still taken by the Snot Monster
  • Have also fallen victim to the Snot Monster. 

 

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Dear Adventurers, packing for a toddler on an international long haul flight is an adventure all its own.

 

Not only am I trying to get a full days' worth of supplies into a small carry on, but it's a full day + lots of boring bits + child with a common food allergy + no ability to get more supplies for most of the trip = I need to make sure that I am carrying for all scenarios, + enough food for him for the entire day in case I can't get anything he can eat on the flight. It's mostly granola bars, some hard cheese, and fruit. (He's been fussy about veg lately, and I need to have food I am confident he will eat since I can't be guaranteed of alternatives.)

 

So I'm basically putting a toddler on a small pressurized tube flying through the sky and feeding him sugar. I'm not proud.

 

...Oh, and there's the stuff I need to pack for the rest of the trip. And me. His current clothing packing cube is larger than mine.

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Packing for kids is rough even on relatively short 3-4 hour domestic flights. It does start to get better when they’re old enough to carry their own stuff, though. We usually pack a full carryon of books and load some of our digital movies on a small tablet. I can’t make myself think about a Transatlantic flight yet. 

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22 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

 

So I'm basically putting a toddler on a small pressurized tube flying through the sky and feeding him sugar. I'm not proud.

 

...Oh, and there's the stuff I need to pack for the rest of the trip. And me. His current clothing packing cube is larger than mine.

This sounds accurate. Basically you’re in survival mode, and you need ALL THE THINGS you can carry to help you make the trip. :) hopefully the toddler sleeps a lot for you. 

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Point of note: technology is great, but it also tends to turn little brains on. We tend to minimize tech until they’ve already fallen asleep and woken up. Otherwise they get overtures but don’t fall asleep. 

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Oh my goodness, today has been so long it's actually tomorrow. We are indeed there and back again.

It was a good trip. My sisters and Mr got along (they had not met before), I got to catch up with them and my dad, and Rowan met his grandpa (for what may be the only time as my father is 80 and in fragile health; it may also have been the last time I see him for the same reason. I try not to think about it too much. But for a man who isn't much of a hugger, he hugged me pretty tightly before I left).

Rowan did about as well on the plane that one can expect of a 13 month old, confined for 10 hours on a flying tube. It wasn't easy, it wasn't a disaster (we got applauded by our neighbours on the flight out), but we aren't going to not fly because it's a challenge.

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I will review and embark on the rest of the challenge shortly.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by Ann of Vries
To fix typos and add extra info.
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I'm glad to hear that it went well!

 

That Rowan, my friend, is one dashing little man.  He's definitely got the Adventurer blood.

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The Keepers of the Flame 1.1

 

[I am not changing my theme for this challenge, but inspired by others, part of my creative writing goal will be to explore the Keeper of the Flame concept I've been playing with at NF.]

 

We had been fooled. The Timesnap forward into Austin TX hardly touched us. In fact, Rowan cheerfully carried on with a much longer than average day, and by the next morning, he had fully integrated. (Mr and I had some side-effects, but they were trivial.)

 

The return Timesnap, though—it’s been brutal on everyone, probably little Rowan the most. I expect it’s all of the energy changes. From London to Austin, we went from our Hearth Flame to which we are well accustomed, to my sister’s home, which has a lot of love and positive energy and we adjusted to that. We also grew to appreciate the rugged, but alien beauty that is Austin (and surrounding areas) wildflowers, limestone, and the twisted trees. But from Austin back to London, the change back rocked us. Especially since our Hearth Flame was not quite the way we’d left it.

 

Our particular post is in a location with a dark history, unresolved mysteries, and a resultantly unbalanced energy. (More about that later.) It’s not good to leave it unattended for too long, so we had some un-posted Keepers to stay while we were away. They’re lovely folk, but every Keeper has an energy signature, and upon our return and their departure I immediately took to removing their energy from the Hearth. While there is a lot more to it, for a quick fix the energy is in the living—cleaning, cooking, tending. I made us a lunch from food I could find in our pantry (rice and beans with frozen corn), and later on after Mr did a trip out to the High Street. A home-cooked dinner of jerk chicken legs (marinated by our local butcher), steamed broccoli (from the green grocer), and the remaining rice and beans followed. I hoovered large areas of the house. Wiped down the kitchen. And generally did my best to reclaim and reset the signature of the Flame.

 

Mr and I are groggy, and even after 11 hours of sleep last night I’d have happily stayed in bed a few more hours. But we’re pushing on. There is much more work to do.

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13 hours ago, Sciread77 said:

That Rowan, my friend, is one dashing little man.  He's definitely got the Adventurer blood.

 

He is very much his father's son. 

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Walking, Interrupted

 

We had plans to go walking today in one of the city forests, but the little one woke up in the night with a fever and wanted mummy cuddles, and then Mr overslept (leading Rowan and I to oversleep in the nursery since he wakes us up). Probably residual effects from the Timesnap, although we had thought we were recovered. Rowan slept another hour on top of that. I suspect it's just an ear infection (and he's in good spirits now that he's awake, but still feverish), but we're into the "hottest days so far this year," and we decided that taking him out in the new heat may not be the best thing for him. So no walk in the city forest. Alas.

 

Mr has scheduled a birthday hike with us and a group of friends in late July. Twelve miles round trip. Now I'm reasonably sturdy, but I'm not sure I've done twelve miles straight of rough terrain since Rowan was born. So over the next 8 weeks I'm going to start training with Rowan and see where I'm actually at and where I can get to. I won't be the primary Rowan-carrier on that hike, but I figure if I can do most of that distance comfortably with him on my back, then I should be fine without him (and to help when Mr needs a break). 

 

Now to ponder a training program.

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The Keepers of the Flame 1.2

 

I had attributed the odd feeling of our Hearth to the messiness of our temporary Keepers while we were away, or maybe the lingering effects of the Timesnap, but as the days carried on, I could no longer explain it away—there was something unusual about our Hearth. A flicker. A shadow. A murkiness, a feeling like water, or… slipperiness. (Fire should never feel like water.) After telling Mr of my concerns, we decided on Saturday afternoon to take the train to Rothehithe. Perhaps it was the murkiness that made me think “from under the river.”

 

We walked the area for a couple of hours—we didn’t know it well, and this only served an introduction. Unfortunately, our only conclusion was that this area needed more investigation.

 

*

 

On Monday late morning, I returned to Rothehithe. Coming out of the station, the sun blinding, I headed toward the riverside, poking my head into the Mayflower pub. The inside was darkened, painted black and deep browns, with gold trim. The little booths remind you of the ship for which it’s named. Being an American in England, I did feel a strange--if backwards—connection to the place. The pub, full of character and age and history is exactly the sort of place where a Hearth—or node—or Flame—would spring.  And the sort of place that has a Keeper. She was slight and unassuming: big glasses, blonde shoulder length hair, setting cutlery on the tables in preparation for the lunch rush soon to follow.

 

I introduced myself. And Rowan. She smiled. People usually do when they realize there’s a child on my back, and Rowan is ridiculously charming.

 

“Oh, you’re the Keeper for Pear Tree Alley?” she said. “Bad luck there.” I’m used to this response. No one wants to be the Keeper of one of the locations of London’s first serial murders. But I didn’t choose it—it chose me. I just offered a weary smile.

 

“There’s something wrong, though,” I said. “I mean, more than the typical. I think it’s coming from over here.”

 

“Hm,” she said, setting down her last set of cutlery and brushing her hands on her black apron. Her eyes got a distant look for a moment. “I see what you’re saying. The weekend was so busy—summer weather and riverside pubs, you know.” I did know, living near many of them on the north side of the river. “But there’s something in the node, something passed through. I’ll see what I can come up with, but why don’t you talk to the barista at the Watch House? He’s usually on top of local happenings. Although I would have expected him to say something to me….”

 

*

 

Call them leylines, nodes, flames, hearths—the Keepers are still finding our common language. In any case, the belief in a metaphysical energy running below the surface and connecting, collecting, and needing caring for—that, at least those of us who have been called all agree on. 

 

The Keeper at the Watch House cafe—a tiny hole in the wall built into the nook of St. Mary’s Church—had little to add. He was in his 20s, slim in a green t-shirt, skinny jeans, and a brown beard. “I mean, it’s East London,” he said. “It’s got a long, nasty history, you know. I think little shadows pass through the leylines constantly.” 

 

“Yeah, maybe.” But I wasn’t convinced. I bade him farewell, and stepped back out into the sunshine. The Docklands did have a long, sordid history, but what I was feeling wasn’t history, it was current events.

 

[3.5 mile walk, toddler carrying]

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That was me, falling off. Mainly, the issue was that my laptop died, and it’s taken a couple of weeks to get a new device up and running (I’m not a fan of TapaTalk on my phone). 

 

I’d give myself a C for this challenge. I did most of the things most of the time. I think my next challenge, though, is going to be a lot more simplified. More on that later....

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